I’ve been a little preoccupied with “world-building” lately, thinking of the toys and imaginary friends I played with during childhood, and thinking of the progression in sophistication they took from when I was very young, to right before when I stopped playing with toys. When I was young, it was just “good versus evil”, good guys versus bad. But as I got a little older, I started working other characters in, the story got a little more nuanced, and eventually a couple of franchises worked their way into the imaginary world I created. Lately I started thinking, what if I made a physical representation of the world that all of these characters inhabited? And what if I could help others do the same?

So this is what I came up with: the NTRGLCTC Project. On the Etsy shop, you complete your transaction, and I send you a questionnaire. It will include questions like what did your imaginary friends, heroes, or characters look like? What did they eat? What did they wear? It will go a little deeper, like was there a “mythology” to the story, was there a continuous struggle like “Good fight Evil”, or “Lyrict wants to get off the planet and back to his homeworld”, or “Barbie wants to date Serpentor”. And then a couple of tough ones, like: what would you do if you lost a toy, or it was destroyed? What story would you create in that world around the disappearance?

Finally I ask about the landscape itself: What is the physical world like? How do you think the geography might be influenced by how you played (for example, my world was prone to lots of earthquakes, mudslides, and fire, because that’s how I played with my toys. I extrapolated from that, that my planet is geologically unstable with a high Oxygen content in the air. And has massive cat-like creatures that occasionally saunter across the landscape).

Northern tip of the Southlands of Ehridahn, following the Tropic of Never.

Then send the questionnaire back to me, and in three weeks I send you a handpainted globe of your imaginary world. And you can opt out of the next part, but I hope you don’t: when I get a sufficient number of imaginary worlds, I’ll have a gallery show where I bring together everyone’s imaginary worlds in vast solar systems, full of imaginary creatures from dozens of people’s imaginations.

It was like I invented a time machine to my childhood to make this. I created the questionnaire first, then I took it myself. I realized that I treated each house that we lived in growing up, like a different continent or region of the world my creatures lived in. I realized that as I grew older, the story grew darker, even more adult. Characters got married, characters died. I realized that there was a “last time” I played with my toys before I put them away, when the hero, Lyrict, finally made it back to his homeworld. God, the emotions that brought up. I know why sand wants to be glass.

There was value in this for me. I hope there will be for others. I honestly think it might be difficult for people to trust a stranger to build a world from their imagination, with nothing but words on paper. But when I look at this globe, I don’t see paint on chipboard. I see a huge world I hadn’t visited in a while, populated with creatures both fantastic and familiar. And when I think of the end result, of a room filled with these worlds that people have created, then I know that the most awe-inspiring world we live on is our own.

NTRGLCTC is available at the BLCKSMTH Etsy shop.

The Southern Hemisphere of Ehridahn


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